Fate of GM and Chrysler in the balance as deadline for loan restructuring looms

Bondholders with the fate of General Motors in their hands are playing a game of brinkmanship with Barack Obama ahead of a restructuring deadline this week.

The carmaker's creditors are betting the President will not allow the company to fall into bankruptcy. They believe they can win additional concessions before accepting equity in return for a haircut on their $27.5bn (£19.2bn) in unsecured debt.

General Motors and Chrysler are being propped up by billions of dollars from US taxpayers. The loans can be called in if the companies don't present their plans for long-term viability.

GM has tried to persuade bondholders to accept a 70 per cent reduction in their holding and to turn some of their investment into shares, but hopes of a deal have been frequently dashed. Chrysler, the weaker of the two, is not now expected to tie up a partnership deal with Italy's Fiat in time for the Tuesday deadline, and will have to present an alternative plan.